The ability to influence is crucial for your success at the workplace and even in your personal social circle. Having influence is synonymous with leadership. By building your influence, you may be looked upon favourably for more senior management roles that require one to influence others. The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene shows you how you can increase your authority, and we look at 5 of the 48 ways here.
(1) Always Say Less Than Necessary
“I learned that you actually have more power when you shut up.” – Andy Warhol
Renowned artist Andy Warhol believed that your words become more valuable to others when you speak less. His strategy includes being vague when he talks about his work (watch his strange interview in 1971 here).
In the context of the work environment, it is important to choose your words carefully. Once they are said, you cannot take them back. The less you say, the less you will risk saying something that can offend someone unintentionally.
(2) Guard Your Reputation With Your Life
Your reputation precedes you wherever you go. In a social environment, the reputation of a person shapes the way we judge one’s actions. The first impression including words, clothes, gestures, and actions will shape your reputation. Reputation breeds trust that can help you or your company achieve your goals.
More often than not, good reputations that slip are difficult to repair. On a corporate scale, the FIFA corruption scandal tarnished prestige of the governing body of football. On personal levels, we are sure you have heard of the media ripping Justin Bieber’s reputation apart. Most recently, Emma Watson’s name emerged in Panama Papers, making people reconsider her immaculate image.
In this social media age, an inappropriate Instagram or Facebook post can show up on Google when searched by a prospective employer. Anything deemed questionable can be looked upon with disdain and put your candidacy at risk when you search for a new job.
In Greene’s words, “One false slip, one awkward or sudden change in your appearance, can prove disastrous.”
(3) Win Through Your Actions, Never Through Argument
According to Greene in the book, “The problem in trying to prove a point or gain a victory through argument is that in the end you can never be certain how it affects the people you are arguing with.” While people may seemingly agree to disagree on the outside, resentment may be sown on the inside, souring relationships.
In fact, Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends & Influence People concurs with Greene. He states in his book, “Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain — and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.”
In the heat of an argument, anyone can say anything to support their own stand. Since your goal is to be more influential, it is perhaps better to look for an indirect approach through actions rather than words.
(4) Avoid The Unhappy And Unlucky
According to Greene, “You can die from someone else’s misery – emotional states are as infectious as diseases.” Emotions are contagious regardless of whether they are positive or negative emotions. Greene suggests that while you can try to turn your peer’s frown upside down, it often does not work, and we end up adjusting to their moodiness.
When associating with people who deplete your energy, you tend to waste time and effort trying to feel better. Hence, Greene posits that we should not underestimate how infectious negative emotions are between people, and avoid those with “chronic dissatisfaction”.
Instead, Greene suggests that we should make use of the positive side of contagious emotions: surrounding ourselves with people who attract happiness to themselves by their attitude. By protecting your positive mood, you will tend to channel positivity into your work and social life. With positive affinities, Greene implies that the people around you would be more willing to be influenced by a positive person than a gloomy one.
(5) Preach The Need For Change, But Never Reform Too Much At Once
Being a “Change Agent” requires influence. Regardless of whether you are pushing for change at the workplace on your own accord or as part of your job, being able to make significant changes mean being effective in influencing others. This is because people usually dislike change as habits are powerful.
Our prefrontal cortex will have to work a lot harder when we try to adapt to changes. In fact, it will take about 21 days 66 days to form a new habit. This means that change cannot happen too drastically or your team will be likely to be uncomfortable with the magnitude of reorientation they have to undergo on their own. Consequently, this may create resentment about your leadership and team management abilities.
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